Wreaths stop in Scarborough honors Vietnam veterans

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SCARBOROUGH — The Wreaths Across America convoy stopped at Scarborough High School Dec. 11 to honor Vietnam veterans during the 50th anniversary of the war.

Wreaths Across America makes an annual pilgramage from Columbia Falls to Arlington National Cemetery in the nation’s capital to lay 400,000 wreaths on the graves of servicemen and women. Five thousand of those gravesites have no name attached to them.

Wreaths Across America will arrive at Arlington Dec. 16.

Former U.S. Army officer Joe Reagan, who is also the vice chairman of Veterans Count Maine, said at the ceremony he was told you die twice – when you take your last breath, and the last time your name is spoken.

Reagan, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, said Wreaths Across America helps ensure servicemen and women are not forgotten, and their sacrifice is not in vain. When wreaths are laid at the gravesite, the fallen person’s name is said aloud.

Members of Congress should be required to walk through the 200-acre cemetery before making decisions that affect service members, Reagan said, adding it is a silent reminder of the cost of freedom.

When visiting Arlington National Cemetery, Reagan said he is pulled to Section 60, which overlooks the Pentagon, and where his friends are buried. It is a reminder to him of an obligation to give back.

“Remembrance goes beyond mourning; we are given a gift to pay back. I have to keep going, and not give up or quit. I keep going for them,” he said.

U.S. Navy veteran William Rose of Scarborough said he served four years, coming from a military family and a father who served for more than two decades. 

When asked what the ceremony and convoy to Arlington meant to him, Rose, who served on the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1963-1964, said, “It’s a special time of year to get together and to take the time and effort of making the wreaths to celebrate our heroes.”

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 106 or jlaaka@theforecaster.net.

Marine Corps veteran Lou Nerren, left, sits with Navy veteran William Rose during the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Scarborough High School Monday, Dec. 11.

From left, Navy veteran Leonard Gilmore, Sgt. Reggie Rouse, a former Army paratrooper, and Army veteran Ed Bossom, all of Scarborough, attend the Wreaths Across America Ceremony Monday at Scarborough High School.

From left, Linda Verrier stands with her husband, David Verrier, a Vietnam veteran, and their grandchildren, Olivia, Owen, and Evangeline Mann at the Wreaths Across America ceremony Monday in Scarborough. 

Roger Donlon, a former United States Army Officer, and the first person to receive the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War, arrives at Scarborough High School Monday for the Wreaths Across America ceremony.